|Conference||American Football Conference|
|League||National Football League|
|Founded||1960 (as the American Football League Western Division)|
|No. of teams||4 (1960–1967)|
|Most recent AFC West champion(s)||Kansas City Chiefs (10th title)|
|Most AFC West titles||Los Angeles Chargers|
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The AFC West is a division of the National Football League (NFL)'s American Football Conference (AFC), formerly known as the AFL West. The division comprises the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Oakland Raiders.
The division has sent teams to the Super Bowl sixteen times beginning with Super Bowl I vs. Green Bay. Currently, as of the 2017 season, the Broncos and Raiders are tied with the most Super Bowl wins within the division with 3 each; Denver and Oakland have appeared in the Super Bowl 5 and 2 additional times respectively. The Chiefs are 1-1, while the Chargers lost their lone Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl XXIX.
The division was formed in 1960 as the American Football League's Western Division. In 1970, as part of the new NFL's two-conference, six-division alignment, the AFL West entered the merged league more or less intact as the AFC West.
The original AFL West had four members – the Dallas Texans (who moved to Kansas City in 1963 as the Chiefs), Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers (who moved to San Diego in 1961, then back to Los Angeles in 2017) and Oakland Raiders. These four teams have remained in the AFL/AFC West since its inception, and are currently the only teams in the division. Largely because of this, and the fact they have played each other twice a year for over half a century, the entire division is considered one very large and very heated rivalry.
The Cincinnati Bengals played the last two AFL seasons in the AFL West despite being further east than Houston, where the Houston Oilers played at the time and were members of the AFC East. The Bengals (along with the Oilers) moved to the AFC Central (formerly the NFL Century, now the AFC North) in 1970, instantly forming rivalries with the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In 1977, the Seattle Seahawks were added to the AFC West after spending their expansion season in the NFC West; they would move back to the NFC West in 2002. The first-year Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976 played as a member of the AFC West before being aligned into the NFC Central in 1977.
Each of the four AFC West teams won a division title in the first four years of the realignment – Oakland in 2002, Kansas City in 2003, San Diego in 2004 and Denver in 2005. It is the only one of the eight NFL divisions to have all of its teams win titles in the first four seasons of the North-East-West-South format.
In the early and mid-2000s, the division was often cited as one of the NFL's "Toughest Divisions" due partially to the home-field advantages of Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Arrowhead Stadium, Qualcomm Stadium and the Oakland Coliseum, although in 2008 the division was the NFL's weakest since the AFC Central in 1985 by sending the San Diego Chargers to the playoffs as division winners with an 8–8 record while the New England Patriots missed out at 11–5 after losing out on tiebreakers for both the AFC East and the wild-card. In 2010, the Raiders swept the entire division, going 6-0, but failed to qualify for the playoffs as they only won two non-divisional games.
The division was very weak in 2011 as well, when a loss by the Raiders in the last game of the season gave the Broncos the division title with only an 8-8 record. Only the NFC West in 2010 and the NFC South in 2014 have historically sent a worse division winner to the playoffs, when the Seahawks (themselves a former AFC West member) won that division with a 7-9 record and the Panthers won the NFC South division with a 7-8-1 record. Along with the AFC (formerly AFL) East, the AFC West is the oldest NFL division in terms of creation date (1960).
Place cursor over year for division champ or Super Bowl team.
|AFL Western Division|
|Dallas Texans||Kansas City Chiefs [A]|
|LA Chargers||San Diego Chargers [B]|
|AFC West Division|
|Kansas City Chiefs|
|San Diego Chargers|
|Oakland Raiders||Los Angeles Raiders [C]||Oakland Raiders|
|AFC West Division|
|Kansas City Chiefs|
|San Diego Chargers||Los Angeles Chargers|
|Team not in division Division Won AFL Championship Division Won AFL Championship, Lost Super Bowl Division Won AFC Championship Division Won Super Bowl|
- A Dallas Texans moved to Kansas City, Missouri and were subsequently renamed the Kansas City Chiefs (1963 season)
- B Los Angeles Chargers moved to San Diego (1961 season) but moved back in 2017.
- C Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles (1982 season). The team returned to Oakland for the 1995 season.
- D Cincinnati Bengals enfranchised (1968 season). After 1970 merger with NFL, the team moved to the AFC Central.
- E Tampa Bay was enfranchised in 1976. The Buccaneers moved to the NFC Central after one year (1977 season). The NFC Central was reorganized after the 2001 season.
- F Seattle Seahawks moved into AFC West from the NFC West division (1977 Season). In 2002 they moved back to the NFC West.
- !The Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs tied for the regular season division title at 12–2–0. The Raiders won the ensuing playoff game to represent the West in the AFL Championship Game.
- #A players' strike in 1982 reduced the regular season to nine games. Thus, the league used a special 16-team playoff tournament just for this year. Division standings were ignored, the Los Angeles Raiders had the best record of the division teams.
Wild Card qualifiers
# In 1969, The Western Division 2nd place team played the Eastern Division 1st place team in an Interdivisional game.
- A players' strike in 1982 reduced the regular season to nine games. Thus, the league used a special 16-team playoff tournament just for this year. Division standings were ignored, the Los Angeles Raiders had the best record of the division teams.
Total playoff berths
Updated through the 2017-18 NFL playoffs
|Team||AFL/AFC West Division
|Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs||10||21||2||1||1||2|
|Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders||15||22||5||1||3||4|
|Los Angeles/San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers||15||18||1||1||0||1|
*Combines AFC Championships and AFL Championships won between 1966 and 1969
†AFL Championships won prior to Super Bowl I (1960–1965)
‡Combined Super Bowl championships and AFL Championships won prior to Super Bowl I in 1967
|(#)||Denotes team that won the Super Bowl|
|(#)||Denotes team that won the AFC Championship|
|(#)||Denotes team that won the AFL Championship|
|(#)||Denotes team that qualified for the NFL Playoffs or AFL Playoffs|
- Broncos–Chargers rivalry
- Broncos–Chiefs rivalry
- Broncos–Raiders rivalry
- Chargers–Chiefs rivalry
- Chargers–Raiders rivalry
- Chiefs–Raiders rivalry